Labor Reforms Prompt Workers’ Strike in Spain

March 29, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Epoch Times Photo
Riot police clash with demonstrators during heavy clashes with demonstrators during a 24-hour strike on March 29, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

A general strike was held across Spain on Thursday, with mass demonstrations and furor over labor reforms that the new government hopes will help lower the unemployment rate.

The country’s director of political affairs, Cristina Diaz, told El Confidencial newspaper that at least 176 people were arrested throughout Spain, adding that a demonstrator threw a molotov cocktail at a patrol car. There were minor injuries reported.

Riot police were forced to serve as escorts of vehicles in and out of the main food warehouse in the city of Malaga, reported The Olive Press. There were similar incidents in Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia.

The strike mainly affected the country’s transportation and manufacturing sector, reported the BBC. As many as 500 flights were canceled throughout Spain, The Olive Press said.

The strikes were called mainly by labor unions, who said that around 85 percent of Spain’s food sector workers took part, according to the publication.

The government said that the strikes weren’t as effective as previous ones in halting the Spanish economy, reported Spain-based The Digital Weekly.

Candido Mendez, head of the UGT union, disagreed and said the “strike has been an unquestionable democratic success,” according to the Weekly.

In the past several years, unemployment has been a rampant problem in Spain, with the jobless rate rising to around 23 percent in January.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is also expected to put forward spending cuts and taxes worth around $53 billion.

“The question here is not whether the strike is honoured by many or few but rather whether we get out of the crisis,” Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro was quoted by the Olive Press as saying.